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New Home Automation?

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the color-changing-lights-and-infinity-mirrors-everywhere dept.

Hardware Hacking 336

An anonymous reader writes "Ok, fellow geeks... I have the luxury of finally building my dream home from scratch. It's going to be good sized (~4000 sq ft over 3 levels), and rather than run around at night to make sure my lights are off, doors are locked, garage is closed, etc, I really want to put in a home automation system. Since the walls aren't up, this is the time for complete flexibility as to my options. The last time I did a whole house, it was years ago, X10. Since then, lots of other protocols, both 'proprietary' and more general (like WiFi) have come on the market for devices — all better than what I've worked with in the past. What do you all have experience with and recommend as reliable, secure, and fairly easy to use? Something with a good chance for long term availability of parts and features would be a bonus."

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I'd suggest (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946521)

first post mother f'er

Re:I'd suggest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946699)

I'd suggest Google Nest! [slashdot.org]

conduit in anticipation (5, Insightful)

Ethan Bernard (2954293) | about 7 months ago | (#45946525)

Place thin wall plastic conduit, as big a diameter as you can fit, within the walls between rooms in anticipation of whatever future technology you might have to route through there.

Re:conduit in anticipation (5, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#45946711)

And start by running two CAT-5 and two coax cables to each WALL in every room. Yeah. Yeah wireless... Yeah, whatever. Run the cables.

Re:conduit in anticipation (5, Informative)

bob_super (3391281) | about 7 months ago | (#45946913)

Start using them by running two CAT-6, a pair of multimode, and if you can afford it (4000ft2?) a pair of singlemode fiber. Don't need to connect them yet, just have enough space for outlets.
At least two of these conduits per room, opposite walls/corners. At least one conduit to each outside wall of the house (put power in these ones too, not everything is PoE). Maybe one more conduit to the top of each outside wall if you want to add cameras-over-IP out of reach, while keeping regular plugs low.

Ideally you'd have all the conduits lead to two different rooms/closets/hidden_panels, in case you have to modify the house in the future, or if you expect people to come grabbing, whether they knock with a warrant or break the window.

Re:conduit in anticipation (5, Insightful)

immaterial (1520413) | about 7 months ago | (#45946991)

If he's running conduit there's no reason whatsoever to run all those unnecessary cables through it. The whole point of conduit is it makes it possible to pull whatever you need if and when you need it. I have conduit to at least three walls of each room in my house but I've only pulled cat 6 and tv cable to the specific walls I need at the moment. Why waste the money installing useless cable?

Re:conduit in anticipation (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 7 months ago | (#45947099)

Agreed, but if you roll the cost of the single-mode into the house, it doesn't need to be re-budgeted when you find that 10GE (or in a few years 100GE) router that you absolutely have to have.
If this slashdotter has a significant other (at 4000ft2, you'd hope), that may not be a negligible thing. Not having to spend a few hours measuring and pulling it (unless you terminate your own fiber) may make it worth having a few strands that will never be used.

Did I mention having enough power near the conduits for the Christmas lights?

And if you really want to show off, have an expanded-beam fiber connector on a panel outside and/or in your garage... because 100GE to the pool is even cooler if you can hose the plug clean.

Re:conduit in anticipation (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 7 months ago | (#45947113)

While he's at it, he may as well install some Twinax in case someone with an AS/400 comes for a visit and needs some Token Ring love.

Re:conduit in anticipation (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 7 months ago | (#45947155)

Triax, in case he wants to go into video production.

Re: conduit in anticipation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946947)

Why not cat-6 just to make sure?

Re:conduit in anticipation (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 7 months ago | (#45947305)

I bought a spool of siamese coax, thinking just what you are thinking, 3 houses ago. I ran the cat5, I ran the 4 conductor speaker wire, I ran plenty of new 220V romex, but I never had the reason to run coax. I generally end up with a single modem (DSL, later cable) that hits a router wherever, then cat5 / 5e / 6 / whatever to the various router / hubs / wifi access points.

Re:conduit in anticipation (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 7 months ago | (#45947469)

Coax really? Sure it's cheap but not much still uses it. Even live TV switches over to IP packets once it hits the house. Maybe if your stuck with satellite as your only option.

WTF? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946533)

Why in the fuck does anyone need a 4000 sq ft house? I don't care if you can afford it, why do you need a bathroom larger than most peoples homes?

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 7 months ago | (#45946559)

WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#45946589)

WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

Since we all live on a planet with finite resources, overconsumption of limited resources is everyone's business.

Re:WTF? (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 7 months ago | (#45946839)

By denying him the right to build a large house, you are taking food out of the mouths of innocent babies.

Shame on you, heartless fiend!!!

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45947241)

WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

Since we all live on a planet with finite resources, overconsumption of limited resources is everyone's business.

That's great. A few questions .... Since you have no idea where this house is going to be (Orlando or the Outback), how it's going to be used (shop space? home business?) and who is going to live there (extended family? orphans?) how is it that you know it involves "overconsumption"? Could you clarify the existence of this nebulous planetary authority that makes it "everybody's" business? Is everything that consumes finite limited resources "everyone's business"?

Will the state that specifies or limits the size of a bedroom also stay out of it? After all, things that go on in the bedroom tend to result in the consumption of many resources. (children or diseases)

Do you know where the committee that oversees you meets? Someone here might want to put in an application.

Re:WTF? (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 7 months ago | (#45947481)

WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

Since we all live on a planet with finite resources, overconsumption of limited resources is everyone's business.

Since you probably live in one of the western civilized societies (yes, I know, the U.S. doesn't exactly fit that description), you are already a locust in comparison to the rest of the world, part of the plague that is devouring the planet's resources, just from the means used to produce your food, and deliver the energy you use for transportation, computers, etc. So the difference between you and a guy building a 4,000 s.f. house is not as sharp to the onlookers as you might imagine. Not even if you compost and drive a Prius.

Myself, I'm putting an addition on my house for a 4 season sunroom with indoor swimming pool, that will bring my house to about 4,200 s.f. total. That's for me and the wife (and a few Bostons).

I can afford it, and it will put a nice chunk of cash in the local economy. How is that wrong, exactly?

Oh, and to remain on topic: I'm just running coax for cable to the addition. Wireless internet to the router in the nearby family room is plenty of reliable bandwidth for my needs. That's really the answer; it depends on what you want.

Re:WTF? (0)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 7 months ago | (#45946635)

AC is just another 1%er upset that someone else is even higher up the economic ladder than they are... Envy is so disappointing...

Re:WTF? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 7 months ago | (#45947027)

dude probably lives in alaska or something where land is cheeper than bees balls.

Re:WTF? (-1, Flamebait)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 7 months ago | (#45946593)

why the fuck do you care? it is his money, his life. If he wants to have a large house why shouldn't he? Who the fuck are you to decide what people do with their money?

Re:WTF? (2)

ZipprHead (106133) | about 7 months ago | (#45946607)

Mod parent up. 4000 really?

Re:WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946657)

Agree absolutely. Fucking Americans.... want huge everything to compensate for their small dicks.

Re:WTF? (2)

Denis Bergeron (2884689) | about 7 months ago | (#45946843)

I'not american and was raised in a over 4000 sq ft house, and have 9 inches ;-)

Re:WTF? (3, Funny)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 7 months ago | (#45947061)

so instead of Denis Bergeron your name should be Penis Burgeoning. Pics or it didn't happen.

Re:WTF? (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45947373)

Are you sure he isn't bragging about his music collection [youtube.com] ?

Re:WTF? (1, Redundant)

PNutts (199112) | about 7 months ago | (#45947395)

Well played, Sir. I wish I had mod points right now.

Re:WTF? (4, Funny)

ls671 (1122017) | about 7 months ago | (#45947125)

Hi Denis!

This is Lea Samson from HR, could you please come see me tomorrow when your are in the office? I have an important matter to discuss with you regarding your career advancement.

Dennis, call from Lea Samson from HR? (2)

pcwhalen (230935) | about 7 months ago | (#45947369)

Dennis. It's your father. Your mother got a call from a lady named Lea Samson, about your penis? We're all kinda concerned.

Our offer to pay for the corrective surgery still stands: accidents during circumcision are reversible.

Re:Dennis, call from Lea Samson from HR? (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 7 months ago | (#45947435)

Axel Foley: Tell Dennis that Ramon - -the fella he met about a week ago? - -tell him that Ramon went to the clinic today, and I found out that I have, um, herpes simplex 10, and I think Dennis should go check himself out with his physician to make sure everything is fine before things start falling off on the man.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947183)

I was raised in a house larger than 4500 sq ft in Germany. Parents still live there.

Re:WTF? (2)

Denis Bergeron (2884689) | about 7 months ago | (#45946833)

Maybe he have 10 children. I was raised in a house of over 4000 sq ft.,with 6 people, my mother having 2 art business in the house, myself having a photo lab. one of my brother doing mecanics, another one electronic, 4000 sq ft, is not enough when you do something with it, not everyone are using they house only for sleeping.

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947043)

I cannot validate a misguided class war comment about a few thousand sq ft of house on a thread about optimal home automation.

Is all this a joke? Did I fall down a rabbit hole?

Re:WTF? (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about 7 months ago | (#45947297)

Maybe the person has a large family. Maybe the person is rich. Maybe the person wants a special room for each kind of drug he wants to indulge on. Maybe the person wants to piss off self-righteous douches. It's part of the luxury of having one's own income and the freedom to do with it at will.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947333)

I had a 2400 sf home, 4 bed 2 bath, and the master bath was bigger than my first apartment - it's luxury, if you don't like it, downsize.

Meanwhile, over-consumers are keeping lots of people employed, fed, housed, etc. If they didn't build their McMansion and instead bought gold coins and buried them in the backyard of a 1200sf Craftsman, lots of people would have less work and less money to spend.

Z-Wave (5, Informative)

tftp (111690) | about 7 months ago | (#45946565)

Z-Wave is the only one that you want to have. Insteon is not very reliable, being dependent on power lines for signaling (at low baud rate, to make things worse) and nothing else can compare to these two.

Z-Wave is entirely RF-based and requires no wiring. However make sure you have plenty of Ethernet everywhere because you will want to have Ethernet-connected sensors such as the power meter, the solar inverter, and a bunch more - plan for those ahead of time.

Plan also for video cameras for security and Ethernet cables to them for IP (or coaxial cables if you pick analog cameras.) You will need entry/exit keypad controllers to operate things (don't know what kind of property you got.) Basically, plan everything before they are done with framing. Make sure all wires are in steel conduits, so that they are protected from Mickey Mouse. You will need live + neutral + protective ground everywhere.

Re:Z-Wave (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946615)

IMO ethernet AND coax should go to each living space, possibly two (or more) outlets of each for bigger areas. I had both installed in each non bathroom area in my house after having to gut the walls after a fire and it's been remarkably convenient and useful. Most important, good inter-connected battery-powered fire alarms, possibly fire suppression (sprinklers) and good insurance.

Re:Z-Wave (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#45946713)

IMO ethernet AND coax should go to each living space, possibly two (or more) outlets of each for bigger areas. I had both installed in each non bathroom area in my house after having to gut the walls after a fire and it's been remarkably convenient and useful. Most important, good inter-connected battery-powered fire alarms, possibly fire suppression (sprinklers) and good insurance.

I wouldn't bother pulling coax unless you have a known use for it -- all of my video comes in over IP (delivered wirelessly to the TV's). I actually have ethernet (Cat-5 or 5E) in the walls in most rooms, but don't have a use for it, I can stream ripped DVD's over Wifi from the fileserver upstairs to the TV downstairs.

Though I would run conduit with a pull-string as others recommended.

Re:Z-Wave (1)

tftp (111690) | about 7 months ago | (#45946831)

IMO, coax only makes sense between analog cameras and the closet where the DVR is installed. This is only because analog cameras are cheaper (-$100) than megapixel IP cameras ($500+.) I have no use for coax otherwise. It was meant for TV signal, but do you want every room to have its own TV? I have a little TV tuner that connects to the network, and then you can watch TV (digital) on any PC. It would make sense to buy one or several of those tuners and mount them right on the TV antenna, to avoid losses in cables. Besides, coax cable costs more, and you cannot just plug it into a switch without loss of quality.

Conduits between rooms, with pull strings, would be very useful. But you need to plan for those access panels. If the switches need to be installed, one should plan for those too. I have no such conduits, outside of the cable that is already in place, and some rooms are missing network. My phones are all SIP (and one DECT wireless phone on an SIP adapter,) all connected to 3CX, so network is required everywhere. Wireless is not an option, you need cable.

Re:Z-Wave (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#45946903)

Conduits between rooms, with pull strings, would be very useful. But you need to plan for those access panels. If the switches need to be installed, one should plan for those too. I have no such conduits, outside of the cable that is already in place, and some rooms are missing network. My phones are all SIP (and one DECT wireless phone on an SIP adapter,) all connected to 3CX, so network is required everywhere. Wireless is not an option, you need cable.

Wireless is still an option, even with SIP -- I spent 2 years in a place where the SIP phone in the living room ran on the same wireless bridge that fed the TV. Ran quite well, (even better after I set up QoS on the internet router properly). But since everyone in the house has a cell phone, we just use cell phones and stopped using VoIP.

Re:Z-Wave (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 7 months ago | (#45947103)

cable boxes and satellite need coax to the box. Also some channels are locked down with HDCP.

Re:Z-Wave (2)

kriston (7886) | about 7 months ago | (#45947163)

Yes, coaxial cable is absolutely required. Don't skimp. It has more bandwidth and it's 100% reliable.

When I renovated the basement, I bought a spool of quad-shield dual-line RG-6 cable with copper core and ran it to every wall in the basement and to every wall on the main floor. Then I ran a pair to every bedroom since I was able to use a riser to the attic. Then used a high-frequency splitter in the basement. This is how you get whole-house DVR working properly.

You *want* to have RG-6 copper-core cable to each point in addition to ethernet. You need it for all home television service. No matter cable, FiOS/fiber, U-verse, or IP-TV, they all use MoCa to communicate with the other TVs and you want to have that. Satellite also needs two cables to each point.

Plus your home DVR solution, whether cable, satellite, will use the RG-6 cable with MoCa to distribute the video to your TVs. The MoCa connection will be the only one that will allow you to reliably distribute non-buffered HDTV to all televisions in the house from a whole-house DVR. FiOS, for one, requires it.

RG-6 is not for analog--it's for modern televisions of all types.

Re:Z-Wave (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 7 months ago | (#45947495)

Analog TV camera work fine on cat5. IP camera's with pan tilt heads are under 100 at this point.

Re:Z-Wave (2)

Nkwe (604125) | about 7 months ago | (#45946797)

Z-Wave is the only one that you want to have. Insteon is not very reliable, being dependent on power lines for signaling (at low baud rate, to make things worse) and nothing else can compare to these two.

If you think you might ever want to use Insteon (which does have some issues, but has some cool features as well), make sure you include a neutral to all of your wall switch boxes. Typical house wiring carries the hot and neutral lines between the ceiling fixtures and drops only a hot "send" and hot "return" to the wall switch. The cost before you close the walls of running 14-3 over 14-2 wire to the wall switches is minimal, the cost of changing after you close the walls is high.

As others have said, run coax and Ethernet from a central location to each room and consider running empty conduit from a central location to each room as well to handle whatever future wires you may want.

Consider running alarm wire to every window and door to support physical alarm switches (either mechanical or magnetic reed). Hardwired alarm switches are generally better than wireless (more secure, look nicer / better hidden, don't need batteries, and cheaper (if installed before you close the walls))

Not really an automation thing, but central vacuum is cool.

Re:Z-Wave (4, Insightful)

djrobxx (1095215) | about 7 months ago | (#45946949)

If you think you might ever want to use Insteon (which does have some issues, but has some cool features as well), make sure you include a neutral to all of your wall switch boxes.

You want this for Z-wave also. There are two-wire Z-wave switches, but they usually require an incandescent bulb. To expand on this a bit - make sure that lighting switches are wired with a constant hot and neutral, and separate load wiring. Usually this means the line and load's neutrals and grounds are tied together in the switch box, and the hot is switched. There are some other more creative ways to do lighting circuits that make things more of a pain when trying to replace switches.

If you can, get the electrician to label the load wire (the one that runs to the light). That can sometimes be a pain to figure out if there's only line and load in a single gang box. I also second the suggestion for alarm wiring. Figure you want motion sensors and wires to every door and window run to some central location. Changing the batteries on these is a big pain if you have a lot of sensors, and the sensors can also be part of your automation logic.

Re:Z-Wave (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 7 months ago | (#45947357)

The central room probably wants a wiring rack - is it too late to put a closet in for it?

Re:Z-Wave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947123)

Z-Wave also lives in the 2.4GHz spectrum, so unless you're running wifi at 5GHz, you're going to be introducing a lot of interference

Re:Z-Wave (1)

tftp (111690) | about 7 months ago | (#45947207)

Z-wave frequencies are in 900 MHz ISM band [wikipedia.org] , exact frequencies being country-specific.

Run Everything to a Low Voltage / Electrical Close (5, Informative)

DanSSJ4 (1693476) | about 7 months ago | (#45946567)

Make sure you run everything, Coax, Cat5/6, Lighting Electrical, Alarms, etc. to a single Telco Closet, or one on each floor.
The biggest problem is usually having to run or rerun wires after construction do to poor planning.

Also put at least one Ethernet jack in every room. Wireless is subject to interference from neighbors, other 2.4 & 5 ghz devices, etc. plus you get use them for video, audio, etc. in the future if necessary.

That is where I would start, that way if you find later that you overlooked something, or decide to change some automation devices you will have the flexibility to do so.

I like the Bayweb Thermostats, it is easy to manage multiple HVAC units, which you will certainly have with a house that size.

Re:Run Everything to a Low Voltage / Electrical Cl (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946801)

Make sure you run everything, Coax, Cat5/6, Lighting Electrical, Alarms, etc. to a single Telco Closet, or one on each floor.
The biggest problem is usually having to run or rerun wires after construction do to poor planning.

Also put at least one Ethernet jack in every room. Wireless is subject to interference from neighbors, other 2.4 & 5 ghz devices, etc. plus you get use them for video, audio, etc. in the future if necessary.

Don't use cat5. HDbaseT needs at least cat5e. Personally I use unshielded cat6 as HDbaseT should be much worse with shielded cables (yeah I'm doing something similar right now). Just remember NOT to place network cables near power cables as 50/60 Hz noise can cause problems. Also power lines tend to have high frequency noise from switch mode PSUs, killing network signals.

With the price difference between cat5 and cat6, there is no question what to pick before you set up floors/walls etc.

Don't. (5, Informative)

ddt (14627) | about 7 months ago | (#45946601)

Ever lived in a house with a built-in intercom? Find yourself using it? Don't feel bad. No one else does, either.

For long-term value, try to resist the urge to automate it today. Lasting value will come from routing high quality, shielded cables both for data and power to multiple outlets in every room as well as creating strong rooms and creating lots of easily accessible, strong mount points where you can install things you'd like to automate with whatever the latest and greatest tech is. They might be mounts for motors for pulleys for shades or mount points for light fixtures or for a robotic arm that changes your baby's diapers or a landing pad for flying bot that fetches you snacks from the kitchen. The thing is, tech is changing *so* ridiculously fast now, that no matter what you choose today, it's going to be not only obsolete in no time, but in all probability some kind of maintenance and even security liability later.

If you design those mount points in to look attractive instead of like nubs of unfinished 2x4, that's going to be the real art of making a house that a hacker can thrive in but that can improve continuously over time and that can be of value to someone in the market for a house 10-20 years later. Goes without saying, but removable wall panels are also a great way to make a house far more maintainable into the future.

Re:Don't. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#45946649)

Ever lived in a house with a built-in intercom? Find yourself using it? Don't feel bad. No one else does, either.

For long-term value, try to resist the urge to automate it today. Lasting value will come from routing high quality, shielded cables both for data and power to multiple outlets in every room as well as creating strong rooms and creating lots of easily accessible, strong mount points where you can install things you'd like to automate with whatever the latest and greatest tech is.

But you still have to decide today what you might want to automate tomorrow unless you like making holes in walls.

If you don't realize that you could have window shades that automatically shield the midday sun or skylights that close when it rains, then you're not going to know that you need to run power and data to those locations and you'll end up tearing up walls and ceilings later on.

Re: Don't. (3, Interesting)

pcwhalen (230935) | about 7 months ago | (#45946815)

Guy I know is a builder. Has a closet on the top floor of his house that opens into a crawlway [lighted with LED lamps] leading to each room on the top floor. There are 2 large pieces of PVC pipe with wiring running in and out. One is to the 1st floor room below and the other is to the 2d story room beneath. There is a set of 2 larger PVC pipes that lead to the basement and electrical switching and panels. He has a strand of fish tape [http://www.harborfreight.com/50-ft-fish-tape-38156.html] in each to facilitate pulling wires.

He said it doubled the cost of wiring the house, but it has future proofed any wiring or room access needs.

He is a guy with a lot of money and WAY too much time on his hands, but I thought it was cool. He shows it off at cocktail parties. 7,000 sq. ft. house, sold it for 4 times the cost to build it 6 years earlier.

Re: Don't. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946935)

A space for running pipes vertically is called a chase. Be careful, a chase is also a way for a fire to very easily get from the basement to the attic.

Re:Don't. (4, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 7 months ago | (#45947377)

>Ever lived in a house with a built-in intercom? Find yourself using it?

I did, I never would have installed it myself, but since it was there, yeah, we used it, and would have used it more if it had decent sound quality.

That was a uniquely laid out house, 2800sf in a sort of U shape - intercom went from one tip of the U to the other - beat the hell out of waving your arms frantically in the window to get attention followed up by charades / sign language, which we also did sometimes when the intercom was on the fritz.

Z wave (4, Informative)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 7 months ago | (#45946617)

It's what I'm starting to use and it's pretty good so far. Door locks, window/door sensors, thermostats, motion sensors, lights, outlets, dimmers, etc. Pretty handy so far. Scripting with LUUP (a LUA like language) is pretty simple, and you can get it to play pretty easily with other whole-house solutions (like SONOS).

For example, when I get home, I can use my cell phone to open the garage door, turn on the garage light, the hallway light, the family room light, turn on the tea maker, and fire up SONOS to the Pandora station of my choice. At night, I can issue a single "time to sleep" command and the house locks itself up, sets lights/temperatures appropriately, and I'm set.

Re:Z wave (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 7 months ago | (#45946925)

I can use my cell phone to open the garage door, turn on the garage light, the hallway light, the family room light, turn on the tea maker, and fire up SONOS to the Pandora station of my choice.

I assume your cell-phone talks to the Internet which talks to your house which causes all of these things to occur? Or is it that you're close enough to home that you can hop on your WiFi network (mine works okayish in the driveway) and nothing is Internet accessible?

I'm curious because I've debated getting this capability for our garage door because I am sometimes unsure whether or not I closed the garage door--it's an OCD thing. So having the ability to check my cellphone to see if I closed the door would be helpful in getting to work on time. My garage door opener has an "Internet Link" which goes to the manufacturer's website and I can check the status or open/close the garage door via that. Of course, I'm not sure I like that idea that somebody over in China can hack their way in and open my garage door. I've debated just using a wireless webcam in the garage so that I could look at that go, "Hey, it's dark. The door must not be open."

Re:Z wave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947097)

That's what my buddy has done, forget what he used but he has one of those sd-card-sized wifi devices which he programs from his computer. It's set up to a switch to open his garage door then he just uses a webcam to look at it. The switch on the door and subsequent app he made can open/close or check the status. Webcam is just for kicks to show other people and a good double check.

Re:Z wave (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 7 months ago | (#45947245)

You know what else you can do?

Pay attention when you're closing the garage door. Build up a modicum of awareness as you're doing it, take a mental snapshot of the door as it's closed, take a mental snapshot of you testing that it's locked. Awareness is all you need, it's just sad how little awareness people have or are capable of focusing.

Or you know, buy yourself an expensive crutch that will only work for that particular application and will have no side benefits on any other part of your life and which keeps you from growth and mastery. After all, it's what keeps modern society running, the helplessness of the individual.

Re:Z wave (3, Informative)

djrobxx (1095215) | about 7 months ago | (#45946993)

It's what I'm starting to use and it's pretty good so far. Door locks, window/door sensors, thermostats, motion sensors, lights, outlets, dimmers, etc. Pretty handy so far. Scripting with LUUP (a LUA like language) is pretty simple, and you can get it to play pretty easily with other whole-house solutions (like SONOS).

You're describing the Vera, which is primarily a Z-wave controller but supports lots of other protocols and ethernet/serial devices. I use this as well. The best part is that there aren't monthly fees to use it, and the community is writing new drivers for things in LUA all the time. Most other HA solutions I've seen are very nickel-and-dime.
 

I recommend RedCloud for your Entry Control (2)

DanSSJ4 (1693476) | about 7 months ago | (#45946619)

I recommend using Red Cloud for Entry Control, it is absolutely reliable, feature rich and has excellent support.

Keys are a big inconvenience, plus it's nice to give keys to neighbors, house guests, relatives, etc and be able to specify dates, times, etc. for access as well as being able to deactivate a key whenever you want.

You can control all the doors with a Smart phone, in fact you can use your phone as the key, by holding it up to the reader.

Insteon (1)

technical_maven (2756487) | about 7 months ago | (#45946637)

I have to disagree. I have a huge Insteon system and find it to be totally reliable. Actually, the larger the system the more reliable it is as every unit acts as a repeater and thus, the more units you have the more robust the system is.

Re:Insteon (4, Informative)

tftp (111690) | about 7 months ago | (#45946751)

I have exactly 42 addressable Insteon devices, plus some access points and some motion sensors that are not addressable. The reliability of all of them hovers about 90%. Note that Insteon retransmits up to 4 times if ACK is not seen. Only one device has 60% reliability, and that is probably due to wiring that leads to it. I also have one Insteon thermostat; it is so bad (crashes) that I cannot have it in the network.

The largest problem is when you walk into a room and press a button. Two events are generated at the same time, and they are competing for bandwidth. Oftentimes one of them is not delivered to the controller. Insteon is not that good at resolving collisions.

I have some Z-wave devices, since I'm developing their firmware (we have the license and the SDK.) Z-Wave is faster, and this means that probability of collision is lower. There is also spatial separation of segments of a larger network - RF reaches only some nodes, but not all of them. In power line based systems all nodes hear all other nodes because the injected signal is pretty loud. (Exception is RF connections of Insteon, but even then if several access points hear your motion sensor they may both retransmit.)

One obvious advantage of Insteon is cost - these are cheaper devices. But expect about 5% of them to fail on you. I have three devices that are dead now. Insteon also works in steel NEMA boxes; Z-Wave will require the antenna to be dragged out.

Seriously.... (1)

pcwhalen (230935) | about 7 months ago | (#45946709)

I have 2 strands of Cat-5e into every room [I use one for 2 telephone lines], a strand of coax and 4 "2-gang" electrical sockets in each room, one on each wall. Try to put the RJ-45, RJ-15 and coax away from the wall with the window or heater. Most likely not where you will put the TV or computer.

Tell the electrician you want each strand to be an "end run" with no splices. Have them all terminate in a room ["the nerve center"] that is not the boiler room nor contains electrical panels, but preferably where your telephone, fiber and cable come into the house. My good friend was the electrician and cut me a real deal.

Label each of the strands coming into the nerve center and your patch panel and then use a gigabit switch and/or wireless throughout.

Cost me a fortune 15 years ago. Still works great. With wireless phones, cell phones and wi/fi, none of it was so vital.

Someone wrote with the idea for conduit between rooms in the walls for future wiring. I like it. Aircraft carriers are built that way.

One non-automation note: radiant floor heat. Best investment in the house I ever made.

Re:Seriously.... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#45946747)

Someone wrote with the idea for conduit between rooms in the walls for future wiring. I like it. Aircraft carriers are built that way.

Having zero knowledge about home automation, but having occasionally wished it was easier to string cabling between rooms ... conduits to be able to make future wiring easier sounds like an awfully good idea.

I'm about to move into a house in which some networking cables are going to have to be strung some annoying distances, and the house has new laminate flooring I'd rather not tear into.

Conduits would likely make this far easier. Instead I see a fish-tape in my future.

The real question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946715)

How can you afford two houses in ten years? That's what I want to know. Technical work doesn't pay that well in my experience.

crestron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946725)

Creston and control4. Crestron has been around for years. Control4 has been around for about ten.
I would concur on running Ethernet. Lots of it. I personally like running conduits for all home run circuits. Smurf (ent) works well for this.

Where to begin ... (4, Informative)

xplosiv (129880) | about 7 months ago | (#45946785)

I highly recommend you check out CocoonTech.com [cocoontech.com] , especially the forums, as there are thousands of folks who have done this, and can bring you up to speed pretty quick. There is also a guide on the site (Wiring your home 101) which will tell you what wires you should run assuming budget isn't an issue (this lets you pick and chose what wire really matters to you).

You have so many options, it really depends on the time you are willing to put in, budget, and features you want.

I recommend you use an Elk M1 or HAI Omni Pro II security/automation panel as the 'core' of your system if security is really important to you, or if automation is your main vice, then look at the SmartThings, Vera, ISY-99, and HomeTroller (Zee) hardware controllers.

Most of us top this installation off with a software component, so we can bridge/interface many protocols and technologies (this way you aren't stuck with just one solution). Most popular commercial software solutions are Homeseer and CQC, but there are many alternatives, free, open source, etc.

Currently, Z-Wave, INSTEON, UPB, ZigBee, and WeMo are the popular protocols.

If you have the budget, consider hardwiring your home automation light switches, as the wireless/powerline based solutions aren't perfect, plus you have to worry about latency/security. CentraLite, Crestron and Lutron RadioRA are popular commercial solutions. They usually require dealer/installer access, but if you really look around, you could get access to the hardware (I'd probably combine RadioRA with a HAI/ELK panel).

There is so much more to tell, so if you have any other questions, ask away, and don't forget to check out the CocoonTech home automation forums [cocoontech.com] !

Plan, use structured wiring and go high-end. (2)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 7 months ago | (#45946789)

If your building from scratch, then design your homes wiring in a structured manner. Consider having twisted pair runs around the house for touchpanels or switchpanels (RS485 is still the greatest automation protocol since sliced cheese IMHO) with that and power connections coming back to small hideable racks around the joint. Have Cat5 and Fibre ports around the house, and perhaps instead of messing around with home handyman junk like X10, consider using high end gear like the AMX's and Crestrons of the world. Not actually expensive if you snarf all that stuff off ebay!

Re:Plan, use structured wiring and go high-end. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 7 months ago | (#45947387)

A protocol is only as good as its use case. RS485 is great, but outside of industry do you see it used much? Sure commercial chillers and telemetry systems but what RS485 systems have you ever seen in someone's house?

Serial is effectively dead for consumers, Ethernet is cheap to the point where the circuits and stack to make something Ethernet enabled cost no more than the circuits to enable RS485. That and everything these days is pushing wireless meshing systems like 802.15.4 or even proprietary serial comms over the ISM band.

RS-485 is nice, but then so is a lot of things I deal with at work but have never seen in a consumer device.

Revolv (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946805)

Full disclosure: I work there.
We just launched a hub that supports Z-Wave, Insteon, and a number of IP devices (over WiFi, including a certain recent Google acquisition...), with another 4 radios that can be turned on in the future (including ZigBee, which should come online in the next couple of months). revolv.com [revolv.com]

Z-Wave + Ethernet + Security wiring + whatever hub (1)

slacklinejoe (1784298) | about 7 months ago | (#45946807)

I have a similar layout, around 3,800 sq feet on three levels. Z-Wave is indeed a solid recommendation to build the individual items on. GE's Jasc products (in wall outlets, in wall switches, adapter outlets are pretty good, I've got a bunch and I've yet to have an issue. Amazon usually has decent prices but be VERY careful about what switches you buy as three and four-way switches are not wired like you'd expect as one will be a normal switch and the others simply send a signal to that outlet - very different from traditional wiring. For the hub, you'll want to evaluate what type of features you want. Do you want internet or smart phone connected (you probably do) - in which case take a look at SmartThings or Mi Casa Verde. The problem I've run into however is that if you want to tinker, not all products play well with other products. You can't use SmartThings to control Phillips Hue light bulbs for example - instead you have to integrate the bulbs into IFTTT.com's web service and then trigger them via the web via actions in SmartThings. Totally does work, but it adds a small amount of latency. When you flip a switch, you really do expect instant results and that 1/2 to 1 second is perceivable. Another question is security, do you want open/close sensors on your doors and windows? Now is the time to wire it if you can and the wiring is thin and cheap. The z-wave wireless sensors you buy work, but do you really want to swap out batteries on a house that size? Plus, they seem unreasonably priced by my standard. Wired ones are 1/3 the going rate and are much more failure resistant. You'll of course want ethernet around for your normal PCs, but make sure to add in a good location for wireless routers and put a few jacks where you'd want video cameras, even if you don't want to install them right now. Cable is cheap, rewiring isn't. Also, while Z-Wave products create their own mesh networks, the hubs that translate from Z-Wave to WiFi or ethernet need to have a good connection for them to work well. I find that I have to buy an extended range model to cover the house, but my location isn't ideal. That said, depending on your building materials you might need a repeater or two so an extra jack is a godsend when you need it. Keep in mind, you'll need a switch closet somewhere if you put a jack in each room. I ended up with 14 jacks coming into a bedroom simply due to poor planning regarding where the cable drop for internet ended up. I really should have put that in an actual wiring closest or something but too much was already dry walled before I got involved. Schlage makes good door locks by the way. Tried a couple before ended up with them. PINs are so much easier to manage when I need someone to dogsit. Audio: do you want centralized music/media controls? If so, it's easy now and a PITA later. Wireless exists, but latency is always an issue and SONOS is damned expensive.

run cat5e or cat6 everywhere you possibly can, bac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946845)

run cat5e or cat6 everywhere you possibly can, back to a central location/ closet. I ran one from every lightswitch in the house back to the "nerve centre" , and I have an SSR behind each lightswitch. so the cablig is thus: lightswitch is connected to cat5e cable, not mains, and switches very-low-voltage (5v nominal ). the other end of the very-low-voltage connects to a digitalInput() on the arduino mega ( or whatever 5v tolerent microcontroller with plenty of I/O that you prefer ) , and then the arduino mega drives another pin as a digitalOutput() , which is wired back through the same Cat5e ( on a different pair) , and it switches on/off the SSR ( Solid State Relay) , which is "in the wall" behind the lightswitch, and the other side of the SSR is connected to the "mains" where the lightswitch originally was. This is extremely flexible because:
1 - if you physically jumper the two pins for the digitalInput and the digitalOutput , then you don't need to program the microcontroller at all, and the jumper acts just like a nomal lightswitch.
2 - you can make one switch do many lights the same way ( connect all the digitalOutput()s together with a wire, and connect them to just one "digitalInput(). no microcontroller programming needed ( unless you prefer it).
3 - anything else that you want to do that's "more powerful" ( like using a switch to control multiple devices, or using special toggle sequences to mean "all lights off" , can be programmed in the microcontroller pretty easily. :-)
4 - it uses "stock" mains wiring, so no special mains configuration is needed, and it's quite suitable to a retro-fit too. :-)

Hold off (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#45946885)

Wait a year until Google's purchase, announced today, of a company that makes household products like thermostats starts to bring new products to market.

Then, you can have your house turned into one of the tendrils of the Panopticon. Won't that be fun?

Is it that important? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946893)

Put your money into quality materials instead. Real wood floors and trims, none of this plastic and MDF shit. Double hung triple glaze low E windows for soundproofing and heat control. Real full wood doors, none of this foam-core sawdust and glue horseshit. Etc. I'd rather live in a quality '60s to '80s construction than some ramshackle short-term experiment in cost-reduced materials.

I don't think the "luxury" of being able to turn off lights while pinching a loaf can replace the peace of mind of quality construction.

CocoonTech is where you want to post this. (1)

cbass377 (198431) | about 7 months ago | (#45946951)

CocoonTech is the forum for this questions, if you have experience with X10, take a look at UPB.

If you are going from scratch, every switch gets a cat5 cable. Wire in your security sensors. Wire in snakeable conduit everywhere else. Especially on your exterior walls. You will want a cable chase that goes from the attic to the basement.

Plan ahead and wire everything you can, then use the z-wave to hit everything you forgot to.

No proprietary software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946967)

You don't want anything proprietary or limited to only one technical solution. Think about it. Your house is going to stay around for a few decades (At least I hope so for you). Look at the technology that was available in the 70, 80, 90 or even last decade. Would you want to be stuck with those proprietary part and not able to upgrade at all ? I don't think you would !

Also be aware that all this proprietary home automation technology have pretty weak security at this stage. None of them have anything close to robust asymmetrical encryption to start up with. ZWave has one key to rules them all... but at least they have one. I can only encourage you to either take the bumpy road of open source software that need contribution and a growing community (I know a french one http://calaos.fr that is pretty outstanding, but sadly no english translation support yet) or try to stick with the logic that you want to be able to replace everything in 10 years from now...

nest!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45946969)

oh, never mind just hand the house keys to Google

Outdoor electrical outlets (2)

crow (16139) | about 7 months ago | (#45946987)

One thing I wish our house had more of is outdoor electrical outlets. You never know when you will need them for gardening tools or holiday decorations. Having them switched is even better, especially if you do a lot of holiday decorating.

Re:Outdoor electrical outlets (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 7 months ago | (#45947321)

I completely agree -- I've got one on the front porch, but nothing on the back deck. If I want to run a line without leaving the back door open, I end up stretching an extension cord from the detached garage behind the house.

Putting them on the sides of the house would be useful for hedge trimmers, the electric chainsaw for when I don't want to drag out the big one, paint sprayer, pressure washer, etc.

I've been places where there was conduit run so they popped up boxes about a foot high near the large trees. It was low enough so it wasn't a huge distraction, but gave the ability to run lights, sound and fans when having a party and decorations for the holidays.

Control4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947005)

Control4 is a awesome home automation system with a universal remote and apps for iOS and android. As for lighting run the standard romex to the switch box then install their wireless zigbee switch/dimmer... All kinds of great features... Check it out at www.control4.com

Vote For Central Vaccuum (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947055)

If you are planning on using carpet. I would highly recommend central vacuum, it gets carpets a lot cleaner and is very easy to use. 2+ outlets(Or inlets if you will) for most room, So you can have more flexibility arranging for room. Avoid the we can't put the credenza there because it will block the central vacuum. I am also planning on having small vacuum pump system with small tubing that makes the cat litter boxes into negative pressure areas. Going to test this out by running tubing on the ground where am living first though. It also needs to be very quite or the cats might just find a new places to relieve themselves. As far as very thing else goes. Run lots of plastic or Metal conduit with easy access through the attic and/or basement. I am running a finished basement with commercial style ceilings.(Wife wouldn't allow painted open ceiling) Also, if your in colder climate heated floors are a real money saver and just all around great feature.

Zigbee (2)

An Ominous Coward (13324) | about 7 months ago | (#45947069)

Zigbee's the best option for home automation ecosystem. Zero-conf mesh networking for great range even through walls/floors, and lower power so all these devices don't bust your electricity bill. And if your utility installs a smart meter with home-area networking, it'll probably be Zigbee, so smart appliances can get usage and price data from there.

X10 (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 7 months ago | (#45947073)

The last time I did a whole house, it was years ago, X10.

So you clicked on one of those popup ads? HEATHEN! BURN HIM AT THE STAKE

Garden Railway (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 7 months ago | (#45947087)

To deliver beer, sugar or caffeine to you.

I know it's old tech, but you could probably do something absolutely geekish with the implementation.

Hard wiring to every room with RS-485, RS-422 (2)

kriston (7886) | about 7 months ago | (#45947109)

Since you have the grand opportunity to design your house before it's built, you want to use the best home automation protocol available. Hard wiring to every room with the RS-485, RS-422, TIA-485-A family is the best long-term bet. This will always work now and in the future. It won't be affected by obsolescence, RF interference, or electromagnetic interference.

You can extend your house later with the toy protocols later like Zwave, INSTEON, Zigbee, Bluetooth 4.0/Smart/WiBree, or whatever. For the core home automation where reliability is required, like lights, doors, alarms, sensors, you should use ANSI/TIA/EIA-485. The wires will be the same as your ethernet in case you ever change your mind, but if you design it right, you won't need to.

You rarely see any theaters, hotels, or shopping malls using anything else but ANSI/TIA/EIA-485.

Use KNX as your system (2)

Harlequin80 (1671040) | about 7 months ago | (#45947115)

I did a huge amount of research on what system to go for when I was looking at doing the same.

The final result was that KNX represents the best system to go for. It is the only open standard meaning you have many many manufactures (as opposed to CBUS) it integrates with pc systems allowing you to do 100% customisable setups and its wiring is simple.

You have to run a seperate cable to every device you control but given you are building this is easy. The cable can support (off the top of my head) 128 devices on one cable. Each device is individually addressed and the on/off status is reported back meaning you can still use manual style switches with no problems.

As others have mentioned make sure you data wire your house as well while you are there but this is a different question.

Expect however to spend $20k+ if you are going lights, access, hvac, sensors, etc. If you want to keep your costs low during the build period run the cable where ever it is needed and add the devices later.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KNX_(standard) [wikipedia.org]

Lutron (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 7 months ago | (#45947149)

Consider Lutron stuff as well. They've got killer products for lighting and shades.

www.SmartThings.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947169)

I like these guys. They support all devices from Zwave to zigbee to future uPNP. They said that they will be adding more stuff.

When in doubt (2)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 7 months ago | (#45947191)

Conduit. You never know what might be invented or standardized tomorrow and render your cabling obsolete.

This is my field of expertise (2)

amxcoder (1466081) | about 7 months ago | (#45947195)

My job is actually programming home and business A/V and environment control systems for a living. While it won't be the cheapest option, if you want the best, go with one of the 2 biggest and most reputable manufacturers out there: Crestron Electronics -or- AMX. These are the systems that the big luxury homes/mansions get. Crestron -> http://www.crestron.com/ [crestron.com] AMX -> http://www.amx.com/ [amx.com] Both manufacturers make wide assortment of proprietary touch panels, keypads, and central control processors for every possible scenario. Both are networkable, and can control anything that is IP / Serial / IR / Relay / or Voltage controllable. They are completely customizable, and do just about anything you want them to do. Each program that is written for these are usually unique to the system and clients desires of what they want. The downside to these options, is they don't come pre-programmed, and you can't get your hands on the delevopment suite without being a dealer. The reason is, these are not just setup/configured like other options out there, they are complete embedded platforms that require programming to get them to do things. Same with the touch screen interfaces, you actually have to design/build the GUI front end, and can make it look and work how ever you want. The other advantage, is they can work and control anything you want to throw at them, but they also make lines of audio/video devices that are suited to doing things like whole-home audio distribution, or whole-home video distribution. They make everything from their own pre-amps, surround sound devices, to HD video matrix routers for routing sources around the house. For the best of the best, these two manufacturers are the cream of the crop. (notice: I do not work for either of these two manufacturers, but I have programmed both of them for 14 years, and run my own programming contract business by providing programming for these system. )

Future Accessibility. (1)

fwc (168330) | about 7 months ago | (#45947319)

I think the biggest thing you can do is ensure that the home is easy to run wires inside the walls and across floor/ceiling spaces without making a big mess. I recently moved into a new-to-me house and have had to do a fair bit of home automation/network refit. In this case, this is a single story home with a full basement. The basement is finished but has a drop ceiling instead of sheetrock. This makes it really easy to run wires throughout the house since you can run the wires in the space between the ceiling and the dropped ceiling and access the space immediately below any wall space. Need to run a cable into a new spot on a wall? Cut a hole in the wall, put a data ring in the hole, then use a flexible drill bit to drill a hole through the bottom plate and the subfloor. Find the hole underneath and use the drill bit to pull the wire up through. Simple. The basement walls are similar as you can access the top portion of all of the walls above the dropped ceiling. This will also work in a 3 story house as well, just make sure you have a full attic or crawlspace which gives you access to the tops of all of the 2nd story walls.

This helps future-proof the house.

I'd also consider/ensure the following:

1) Make sure there is a NEUTRAL at EVERY electrical box, including switches. Makes things lots easier. I've also gotten in the habit of using an additional conductor from the lightswitch to the light in case I decide to install a fan or similar.

2) Have the electrical contractor use the biggest box that will fit in the wall space. None of these cheap 2" deep things. 22 cubic inches is the size for a single gang box. They are roughly 3.5" deep (the width of a 2x4 wall stud). This is to accomodate the much larger volume of a home-automation switch and/or outlet.

3) Consider truss construction in spaces you'll have to run lots of wires through - it solves the issue with too many holes weakening the structure.

4) Take the advice of others on the thread, and do go ahead and install boxes with conduits on at least each wall. The conduits should be at least 3/4" - 1" would be better. If you've got a dropped ceiling or similar, they just need to be stubbed out into the ceiling/attic area. If you're enclosing, then they need to be run to a central closet or similar.

5) Don't forget satellite, cameras, etc. etc. etc. - run boxes/conduits for them as well.

6) In bedrooms, think about where the bed might be placed and make sure you have outlets on both sides of each bed position. In the master, if you know where the bed is going to be placed, consider adding nightstand height switches and/or boxes for automation controllers, cell chargers, etc.

I probably could keep coming up with other ideas, but that are the main ones...

Re:Future Accessibility. (1)

fwc (168330) | about 7 months ago | (#45947345)

Remembered one more item...

I personally use insteon for most everything, other than those things which seem better for m-wave - in my case, I use m-wave for door locks, thermostats, etc., which are somewhat slim picking on the insteon side. I like how the insteon works for power control, and m-wave seems way expensive and weird for that stuff.

I haven't yet purchased it so I can't say how it works, but I'm about ready to spring for a Elk M-1 panel in combination with a ISY-994i with their new (beta) m-wave radio. Looks like it should work great.

robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947341)

robots don't like stairs

Staples Connect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45947349)

As far as radio technology goes, having Zwave is going to provide the best device ecosystem with reasonable stability in the market. You've got a wide array of appliance devices (outlets, lamps, thermostats, locks, garage door openers) that already use it. When you consider that newer home automation, the products are usually built on things like WiFi and bluetooth (cameras, hue lights, Nest, WeMo, mother,etc) .

There are several commercial solutions on the market, but my /opinion/ is that the Staples Connect is the best out there. It has the largest current ecosystem of devices over Zwave, WiFi, Zigbee and Lutron's proprietary ClearConnect (whatever their system is to control their shades/blinds). Also, they seem to be churning out new support quickly like Insteon and other seemingly interesting things like Jawbone UP integration, twitter integration. Of course, it isn't particularly hackable yet, but it does support a pretty reasonable Activity model for setting up behaviors.

full disclosure: i bought the staples connect hub and am pretty happy with it thus far. I've had to call in for support a little bit but after figuring it out, feel like its actually pretty good. I imagine it will get better as it gets more developed.

Home automation in my new apartment (1)

generikz (413613) | about 7 months ago | (#45947367)

Just got mine delivered a few weeks ago with products from Bticino (http://www.bticino.com/).

They provide services such as:

  - Temperature adjustment (2 zones, from floor heating)
  - Light control (individual/all)
  - Window shutters control (individual/all)
  - Instant power readings (light and regular)
  - Power consumption graphs/stats
  - RJ45 plugs compatible with phone/internet with space reserved for your internet box
  - Heating/cooling scenarios
  - Reachable via smartphone app

As an unexpected bonus, all light switch have small LEDs embedded -- green when in use, orange when off. It makes it easier to find them in the complete dark.

So far it's been working quite well. You can easily monitor your power consumption patterns and adjust it to catch the high/low cost periods of the electricity provider.

douche (1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 7 months ago | (#45947383)

If you have a 4k sq ft house, you're a douche. It's not a house, its a tacky underbuilt mcmansion.

Off the Geek Track (2)

ATestR (1060586) | about 7 months ago | (#45947449)

Ok, I may take some flack from everyone on this, but I'm not going to suggest more wiring in the walls, etc. etc. Instead, I would suggest, if you have the option, to consider earth sheltered concrete. Properly designed, you can minimize heating and/or cooling load on the structure, potentially eliminating the need for gas/oil/electric furnace all together.

That said, once you've got your basic structure, feel free to load it up with all the wires, wireless, automation, and other toys you like.

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